COUM Transmissions was an transgressive performance art group, with inspiration stemming from Fluxus and the underground Mail Art scene, founded at the end of 1969 in Hull, U.K. by Neal Megson (soon to be known as Genesis P-Orridge) and "Jesus" Joheero. COUM expanded its members from 1970 to 1973 to include Cosey Fanni Tutti, Pinglewad, Spydee and Ray Harvey. During its 10 year existence, the group featured a rotating cast of other members including Haydn Rob, Timothy Poston, Ian Evetts, The Very Reverend Lelli Maull, John Smith, Fizzy Paet, Foxtrot Echo and John Gunni Busck (a.k.a. John Lacey). In 1974 Peter Christopherson joined the group and had a strong influence on its direction. The last COUM performance was in May 1978.
The group was very involved in music throughout its history even appearing on a bill with Hawkwind in October 1971. However they were also very active with performance art, mail art, installations, video, and print publications. COUM performed across the U.K. as well as in Europe and the US. In September 1975, COUM members Genesis, Cosey and Peter joined up with Chris Carter (2) and focused their musical energies on the parallel project Throbbing Gristle. This left COUM to focus more on performance art in its last years.
COUM Transmission were always controversial with such avant garde happenings such as Copyright Breeches, COUMing of Age and Marcel Duchamp's Next Work, but this peaked with the "Prostitution" art exhibit at London's ICA in October, 1976 - based around photos from Cosey's career as a model/actress for pornographic magazines and films. The "Prostitution" show was also the accepted premier of Throbbing Gristle. Tory MP Sir Nicholas Fairbairn decried the show as "a sickening outrage. Obscene. Evil. Public money is being wasted here to destroy the morality of our society. These people are the wreckers of civilization!"